It all begins tonight. The preseason start of a blue and white career for one of the most anticipated centre acquisitions in Leafs history. He’s here. He’s ready.

But enough about Adam Cracknell, we’ve got a Mailbag to cover.

Recent Posts

Just one this week. Lots coming in the next few days!

The Canadiens fared well with Pacioretty’s farewell: Montreal made their slightly-more-than-annual blockbuster trade last week, and I didn’t think people were giving them enough credit for the return. In this post, I talk about the position they put themselves in, how they recovered for it, the players they got back, and why it was time to sell anyway.

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The Mailbag

On paper, there’s a “battle” between Garret Sparks, Curtis McElhinney, and Calvin Pickard for the backup goaltender spot (sorry, Kasimir Kaskisuo and Eamon McAdam, but waiver status leaves you out of this).

I can’t imagine that Pickard has much of a shot unless he absolutely dominates in camp. McElhinney’s performance in his limited workload last year would give some sort of inclination that the spot is his to lose, but age and non-NHL performance matters. Sparks is coming off of one of the best single seasons in American Hockey League history and a Calder Cup, and has about a decade of youth on McElhinney.

I’d guess that barring an injury or personal meltdown from any of the involved parties, McElhinney and Pickard will be waived just before the start of the regular season to be sent to the Marlies – barring a concrete trade offer from a team. Sparks will back up Andersen to start the year at the very minimum; maybe with some review if he struggles, but he’ll be given the opportunity to run with the role as the goaltender with the highest risk of a waiver claim and highest potential upside.

I’m really excited to see the Marlies’ sheltered line from last year’s playoffs in a bigger role. At the very least, I’m excited to see two-thirds of them together; I’m assuming Adam Brooks and Mason Marchment will continue to be linked together, though Trevor Moore might get swapped out for someone else.

That duo was lights out from January on, feasting on teams that had not in any way game planned for them, and exhibit a lot of the Hockey IQ and understanding of possession play that the organization is working towards. Another year of maturity should do them a world of good – possibly even making them call-up candidates by the end of the year.

It’s kind of funny to see the Rangers at the forefront of this, given that they are, for reasons both good and bad, among the least likely to see a full rebuild through. We’ll see how willing they are to stick with the plan if Artemi Panarin is still knocking on the door in July, but I do believe that announcing intent is the way to go about things.

Fans are more accepting of a rebuilding process than given credit for. In a hyper-coverage world, the average person knows the general tenants of team-building and that a team without cost-effective, young players can’t succeed in today’s game. In short: your most invested fans know that if you’re not competing, you should probably be rebuilding. Being transparent about it makes every pill a little easier to swallow, and gives you more rope to make tough short-term decisions. It also puts less pressure on you to win on a game-by-game basis.

General Managers are going to use just about any tool in their box to try to negotiate a player downward. It’s of no surprise that they’ll try to pit their own players, in essence, against each other to make them take a bit less money.

Whether a player should be expected to buy into that idea is a different story. I don’t believe that these players should be accepted to accept less than what they’re worth; hockey players – especially superstars, are undervalued compared to other top athletes in professional sports, and with each year, the elite guys fall further behind the league max that was designed for the best players in the show.

Is there a situation where it makes sense to take less? I think so – some players value the end-goal (trophies, championships, etc) more than the money, especially when it becomes more than what they know what to do with. It can also be self-investment: taking a discount on one contract to put yourself in a position to succeed and put up numbers could earn you more on a later deal. Again, though, that should be a choice – not an onus.

It certainly makes it harder. I’m not a “hard” ban-fighting person just yet; I don’t think it contributes to the game, and I’d look at gradual rules like the CHL/AHL method of suspending after X amounts of fights or making it a longer penalty, but cold turkey may be a steep move.

I’m definitely at a point where the “staged” scraps make me roll my eyes or the ones that are clearly designed to keep players in the lineup. The heat of the moment defence of teammates can stay for now, but I’m not cheering on anything that’s pre-agreed upon, especially knowing the damage it causes.

Cap hit isn’t something that goes up and down; simply put, it’s the total cost of the contract divided by the term. How much one makes in a given year, or what their signing bonuses are makes no impact on the deal. The only variance comes from performance bonuses, which don’t really exist outside of entry-level contracts and some late-career deals.

I don’t think so. Edmonton would have the strongest case (I’d give up a hell of a lot for Connor McDavid), but having to take on some of their deadweight when Toronto’s in pretty good long-term shape with all of their pieces pulls the idea backwards. Pittsburgh and Tampa are similarly deep, but their important core pieces are older.

Honestly, the great part of Vancouver is that it’s very walkable – both from a climate perspective and from a surface area perspective. I usually start by wandering or biking the seawall and forking off in search of new spots.

With that said, my two most-abused go-to’s on a given trip are the Happy Combo at Naruto Sushi (way more food than $11 should ever get you) and hanging out at Canada Place. As far as new things I really enjoyed on this most recent trip outside of the obvious, La Casa Gelato was great (they have about eleventy billion flavours).

The “Jeff is obsessed with hating my team, the _______” meme is understandable when you think about it. It’s horrible to be on the receiving end, given the harassment and anger it breeds, but its a great example of cognitive bias; “die-hard” accounts from other fanbases who have no interest in following me will only see my tweets if someone else in their social circle quote-tweets me into their timelines in anger.

As such, it leads to their experience with me only being team-negative. It is what it is.

As far as hating teams: It’s just too difficult for me. At the end of the day, these are people playing sports that I really enjoy – we have storylines and there are sore-spot moments but hockey is hockey. I think the closest I’ve come to hating a sports team is deciding that New York City FC (an MLS club) were the root of all evil, but once they signed Andrea Pirlo (an all-time favourite of mine), that went away too.

So I’m soft in that regard. But yeah, I don’t hate anyone’s team. Like less, I suppose, but no hate. Sorry if that’s less fun.

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